It’s easy to get downhearted in these challenging times. Just when it seems things are finally getting better, there’s another eruption of bad news. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the Covid front, violence in our communities, or the appalling fact of racism, there it is again – bad news.
When California (where I live) recently went back into lockdown, I had this awful sinking feeling in my stomach, “Oh no, not again.” It felt like we couldn’t go forward for going backward.
Then I came across a story about Mae Krier, a 94-year-old lady who was one of the original “Rosie the Riveters” – women who worked in U.S. factories during WWII to support the war effort.
This year, Mae stepped up to the plate once again, now making masks – some 200 so far – to help support us all during this war on Covid. To honor the memory of her fellow “Riveters,” Mae uses fabric with the iconic red polka dot pattern made famous in the WWII poster of “Rosie the Riveter” by artist J. Howard Miller.
What a fantastic example for us all. Mae did not hesitate back in the 1940s nor today in 2020 to look for a way to contribute to her country’s survival and well-being, rather than dwell in the land of “ain’t it awful” or “woe is me” – all too common responses for many of us.
What makes Mae able to respond in such a valiant way? Her attitude. Mae has – conscious or otherwise – the positive expectation that her efforts will make a difference. This is what energizes her to do what she does.
But here’s the thing. What Mae may or may not realize is that her positive expectations have beneficial consequences for her physical and mental health. Science has shown us time and time again that a positive attitude has remarkable impact on our health and well-being.
Just this year, a new study showed that women stroke victims, who held the positive expectation that they could protect themselves from another stroke, experienced reduced blood pressure. Reduced blood pressure, in turn, reduced the risk of the women suffering another stroke.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that optimists, the ultimate “positive-expecters,” live longer, age well and have healthier immune and cardiovascular systems.
It was clearly time for me to get my inner optimist in gear. Enough with the downhearted, dispirited pity-party that I’d been inflicting on myself and my friends. Mae served as a wonderful inspiration to get me going once again in a positive direction.
I have long learned that positive beliefs are not the same as wishful thinking. Saying to myself, “everything is wonderful, life is terrific” is blatantly untrue, at least at the moment. Holding an expectation that my efforts can make a difference, however, is something I can genuinely believe in.
For example, in terms of Covid, for me that means wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, washing my hands often, and keeping myself as healthy as I can. It’s not important whether the efforts you choose to make are in line with the efforts others are making. What matters is that you have the positive expectation that your efforts are valid for you.
So, step out of whatever despair or frustration you may be feeling at the moment and step up to the plate of your personal positive expectations. Allow those expectations to fuel your enthusiasm for whatever efforts you decide to take.
We can’t go backward and rewind life, but we can go forward and do what it takes to make it better, for ourselves individually and for our world as a whole.
What are you doing to stay positive during the pandemic? Do the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions cause you to feel down? If so, how are you able to overcome those feelings? What pick-me-up suggestions can you offer to others? Let’s begin a discussion!